Another Phase in the Cultural Proxy War

The current claims and counterclaims about what Judge Brett Kavanaugh did or did not do more than thirty years ago should – in theory – have been weighed on the merits (and out of the public eye unless further corroboration emerged). But it’s difficult not to see the controversy, which is now impossible to resolve after so much time, as a proxy war over something else. Whether Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed – today or at some point in the future – that proxy war is not coming to an end, but only entering a new phase.

Abortion is not just a particular issue on which the present candidate for Supreme Court Justice has been examined; it is the crucial issue. Republicans and Democrats disagree, sometimes sharply, on many things – global warming, immigration, religious freedom, gay marriage, capital punishment, health care, contraception, entitlement spending, gun rights, etc. But the defining “red line” is abortion.

The Democratic Party, in its platform and practices, has become the party of abortion. A valiant group, Democrats for Life America (DFLA), has been fighting to include pro-life provisions in the Democratic platform and claims that one-third of Democrats are pro-life. DFLA refused to endorse Barak Obama in 2008; there are only a handful of Democratic candidates that they have been able to endorse.

A Democratic president like Barak Obama would never appoint or nominate a candidate for an important position who was openly pro-life, as was clearly demonstrated in the State, Education, and Justice Departments, Homeland Security, etc. during Obama’s presidency. The “deep state” is not open-minded.

Republicans vary. They are not universally pro-life but typically support pro-life candidates. Some Republicans are primarily interested in economics, national security, limited government, or other issues; but being “pro-life” does not automatically disqualify a candidate in the minds of most Republicans.

Consider: Brett Kavanaugh might have shown some sympathy for issues connected with Republicans in his Congressional hearings – gun rights, limiting paths to citizenship for illegal immigrants, discontinuing elements of Obamacare, etc. – and still have gained support from some Democrats, as well as Republicans. But if he had even suggested that he would favor overturning Roe v. Wade, it would have killed his candidacy, even for Republicans such as Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

Essentially, the right to abortion is a right to kill a human being during gestation. Some Democratic “pro-choicers” might personally refuse to exercise their “license to kill.” But they consistently preach that fetuses are just a “mass of tissue” and women have the right to control their own bodies.

Photo: Sipa/AP

Such homicides, therefore, have to be sanitized by being assigned to professional medical hit men (or women). But a “woman’s right” is unquestioned, like a religious belief. Following the patterns of Aztecs and Incas and other pagans, ancient and modern, practitioners of this religion would be willing to sacrifice human children to obtain a great gift – for them, the gift of sex without the threat of parental obligations.

It’s doubtful that even adamant feminists would be willing to die for these beliefs – since such a belief by definition prioritizes their own lives over their unborn children. But quasi-religious beliefs do not always demand a willingness to die rather than renounce them.

Ethical and unethical beliefs often display a “slippery slope” syndrome. If you believe it is perfectly all right to destroy a human being in utero, it may seem quite easy to believe you can destroy the reputation of another human being for the sake of the cause. If you can lie to yourself that a human fetus is “just a mass of tissue,” it’s not too great a stretch to lie to others to maintain the falsehood.

If you really believe that a fifth conservative on the Supreme Court could destroy forever the “abortion right” that has been bestowed on millions of women by a few liberal members of the Court in the past, then you may feel duty-bound to keep a potential Justice out of such a position by any means possible.

The present situation seems to exemplify such garbled ethics.

To review: Christine Ford, a California psychology professor active in the Trump Resistance movement, sent a letter to the senior Democratic senator in California, Dianne Feinstein, alleging attempted rape in high school by candidate Kavanaugh. She requested anonymity, but her message was leaked to the media and cast a cloud over the largely successful (though interrupted by angry and boisterous activists) Congressional hearing on Kavanaugh’s candidacy.

Professor Ford’s lawyer, Debra Katz, noted for defending Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Franken when they were accused of sexual crimes, came to Professor Ford’s defense, along with other lawyers and interested parties. Senate Democrats, all except two of whom have pledged never to support Kavanaugh’s candidacy anyway, pushed for a renewed “he-said, she-said” hearing, in which both the accuser and the accused presented credible testimonies. Kavanaugh, being accused of an indictable felony, understandably became more emotional than in his earlier Senate hearing.

Other even less credible accusations of sexual crimes and even gang-rape began to surface, preventing Republican senators from making a final decision until an FBI investigation could be conducted, interviewing alleged witnesses (several of whom had already sworn under conditions of perjury, that they know nothing of the alleged crimes).

We are now at the end of FBI investigations – at least it appears so – but as many anticipated, they have only been able to show that no one has corroborated Professor Ford’s charges. Such uncorroborated accusations, recklessly released to the public, seem to have done nothing more than further poison our politics and inflame our national passions.

Judge Kavanaugh seems likely to be confirmed by the Senate. As of this writing, his nomination was sent forward, 51-49, with a final vote scheduled for sometime today. Yet the Democratic Party and supporters of “abortion rights” will not take defeat lightly.  This is the beginning, not the end, of yet another battle in the cultural civil war that has already been brewing for some time – and will not end any time soon.

Howard Kainz, Emeritus Professor at Marquette University, is the author of twenty-five books on German philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, and religion, and over a hundred articles in scholarly journals, print magazines, online magazines, and op-eds. He was a recipient of an NEH fellowship for 1977-8, and Fulbright fellowships in Germany for 1980-1 and 1987-8. His website is at Marquette University.